Your children may very well come home from school wearing a red and white threaded Marti, or Martis (βραχιόλι Μάρτη) bracelet this week. For those of you who don’t already know; according to this Spring tradition you wear a Martis bracelet from 1st March until the end of the month.
This tradition, while stemming back to ancient Greek times, is practised in various ways throughout the Greek World and the Balkans today. Mothers traditionally tied these bracelets to their children’s limbs (their right hand or left leg) to protect their delicate skin from the first harmful rays of the March sun (hence the red thread to symbolise the red rosy cheeks and the white thread symbolic of a white complexion); others say it protects children from the evil eye, sickness and other misfortunes.
While I am not one to hold superstitions or believe in talismans that ward off evil, I do however think that there is something special about upholding the traditions that give our children a sense of connectedness to time and place. My kids wear their bracelets throughout March and then like to follow the tradition of tying their worn and tatty bracelets to a rose bush for the first swallows to build their nests with. Others like to throw theirs in the Easter bonfires. Whatever you choose to do with your Marti bracelets, it’s nice to know the stories behind them, built from years of traditions that are still upheld today.
If you’d like to know how to thread your own Marti bracelet, there’s a useful YouTube tutorial here (alternatively, you can find them by the cashier’s till at your local Jumbo!😊):